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The Full English Archive Open Day in Cambridge

The Full English Archive Open Day at Clare College, Cambridge

The sun shone and the first in our series of The Full English Archive Open Days was duly held in the Gillespie Centre at Clare College, the University of Cambridge. The star attraction here is the Cecil Sharp fair copy manuscripts – the most famous ones – which were put on display for all to see under the watchful eye of archivist Robert Athol and his team of helpers.


All of these manuscripts are now available to view on the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library (VWML) website, but there is nothing quite like seeing the real thing.



Lord Thomas and Fair Eleanor
View online



Minster Lovell Morris

A total of thirty-eight people attended the event, which was kicked off with a talk from English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) Library Director, Malcolm Taylor, who retraced the history and development of project, as well as demonstrating how to use the website.

This was followed by another very humorous talk by folklorist Steve Roud about Cecil Sharp and his place in the folk revival of the early twentieth century. Was Cecil a saint or a sinner? Are we thankful for the enormous amount of music and information he left to us in his many volumes of manuscripts? The former question is always up for debate but the answer to the latter is undeniably an emphatic “Yes!”

All attendees then had the opportunity to leaf through the original manuscripts and ask questions about them. We were delighted to see one of our project cataloguers, Louise Bruton, who herself now had the chance to see the actual documents she had so carefully worked through as digital images during her year working on the project.


Looking through the archive

Looking through the archive

Our thanks are extended to librarian Anne Hughes and archivist Robert Athol of Clare College who organised the event and provided us with tea and coffee and all the help we needed for what was an excellent day all round. Thanks also to our volunteer Robert Weedon who helped with registering our visitors and taking some of the photographs on show.

Our ext stop will be The British Library on Saturday 10 May where Ralph Vaughan Williams and Percy Grainger will be the focus of attention.